|Beck & Rice: We Support Class Action Suit Against ‘Renter Hell’ Property Owners
Senator Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) and Senator Ron Rice (D-Essex) today pledged their unwavering support for tenants at Pueblo City, as they file a class action lawsuit against the owners of the Newark housing complex. Pueblo City was one of the properties visited by the senators and featured in the Asbury Park Press investigative series: “Renter Hell.”
The main plaintiff in the class action lawsuit is Yanira Cortes, a Pueblo City tenant who has been actively working alongside the senators as they fight to advance their “Safe Sanitary Subsidized Rental Housing Bill of Rights.” Other plaintiffs include Pueblo City residents who have lived in the complex within the last 6 years. The suit, which was filed on Sept. 22, 2017, claims “breach of warrant of habitability” and “consumer fraud.” The suit also requests that the building be put into receivership.
“Pueblo City was arguably one of the worst subsidized housing complexes we have seen,” Senator Beck said. “Families were living among rats and in cramped spaces with mold crawling up the walls. I commend Yanira and her fellow tenants for having the courage to file a class action suit. They deserve justice and a safe place to live, as do all tenants who are forced to live in such horrific conditions. We will continue to fight for our legislation, so that no one ever has to live through this hell again.”
Beck and Rice sponsor S-3270, the “Safe Sanitary Subsidized Rental Housing Bill of Rights,” to hold negligent landlords accountable for dangerous, unsanitary, and unsafe conditions in subsidized housing.
“This class action lawsuit further proves that the residents of Pueblo City need protection now,” Senator Rice added. “Any landlord who subjects tenants to such dangerous and unsanitary conditions should be held accountable. I hope that this lawsuit and that abysmal inspection report will be more than enough to convince Legislative leadership to send our bill to the Senate floor. This is a desperate situation affecting families across New Jersey. They cannot wait any longer for us to take action.”
The bill addresses the deplorable living conditions uncovered in the recent Asbury Park Press (APP) investigative series, “Renter Hell,” which found children and families living side by side with rats and cockroaches, crumbling walls and ceilings, a lack of heat and hot water, and human waste. While many of sites investigated were in Asbury Park and Newark, the senators believe this is a statewide issue.
In addition to visiting these properties, Beck and Rice have met with numerous stakeholders in their bipartisan effort to ensure safe and sanitary housing for New Jersey. Earlier this month, the senators also learned that Pueblo City scored 10 out of 100 on a recent Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) inspection of the complex by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
“We were outraged to hear that Garden Spires had passed a REAC inspection despite the fact that the actual units were deemed unlivable. This cannot continue, Senator Rice and I support Yanira and all of the tenants involved with this lawsuit. We continue to work with them to pursue justice and safe housing for all of the families forced to live in such deplorable conditions.” Beck concluded.